We all have our favorite genres. It shows when we’re asked to name our top 5s, or when we’re browsing our local game shops. There is always that specific area of gaming that seems to make us smile more than the others. It pulls us in and makes us devote hours of our days without ever noticing the passing of time. I’ve always wondered what makes one genre stand out over another. What is it that defines why I want it? And it got me thinking, what games define these genres for me? So I figured I’d discuss my favorite and see what goes from there.
My favorite genre has to be the Action Role Playing Game. I am amazed by the freedom of movement during combat, the traversal of the areas and the customization. Nothing gets me on board for a game more than character customization, especially if it’s aesthetic. An Action RPG takes the best of an action game and your standard RPG and rolls them into one potentially awesome experience. I’ve always been a fan of Role Playing Games, but turn based just didn’t cut it for me. I would rather rely on my reflexes and action mechanics than chance and stat numbers. To be unburdened by invisible walls and probability is what defines an Action RPG for me, but what games made me think this?
There is one in particular. I laugh when I think about it because whenever I bring it up around friends I get strange looks from them all. It might be because most people I know never played it. I’m talking about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the Nintendo GameCube. Some might be wondering why a game that came out in 2004 is what I choose when already-great games in the genre had already existed. By the time I played this entry in the Final Fantasy line of games, I was already 17 years old. I had already experienced the Gauntlet games, explored the realms of Sanctuary in Diablo II, and had played many an Action RPG. These are all games I would later come to appreciate even more, but it was Crystal Chronicles that made everything click for me.
First off, multiplayer felt more like a necessity than an add-on. While other titles in the genre did give a focus on multiplayer when designing worlds, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles let the need for multiplayer permeate every aspect of the gameplay. Sure you can play alone and have fun, but the level of depth added by including other players made for a far better experience. Not only did it make exploration a more pleasant affair, but it necessitated communication, something a lot of games still fail to do.
Since multiplayer requires connecting GameBoy Advances for each player (the game supports up to 4 players), the screens are used to provide information about the game world and each player’s menus. Everyone is granted different information, so you must speak to each other in order to really get around and emerge victorious. The game also adds some healthy competition by rewarding players at the end of a dungeon based on how they performed. This helped keep the game engaging.